Airbus warns UK government has ‘no clue’ on Brexit as warring lawmakers meet


The chief executive of European plane-maker Airbus has taken another shot at the U.K. government, claiming Friday that it has “no clue” on how to leave the European Union (EU).

Last month, Airbus warned that it could be forced to stop making aircraft wings in Britain, if Brexit disrupts its supply chain.

That led to a rebuke from senior British lawmakers, who claimed that Airbus, as well as other businesses, shouldn’t venture into political debate.

Speaking at reporters at Airbus’s annual media briefing Friday, CEO Tom Enders bluntly ignored those warnings by once again criticizing Downing Street’s approach to negotiations. He evoked the contrast between the happy days of summer and the ongoing confusion surrounding Brexit.

“The sun is shining brightly on the U.K., the English team is progressing towards the (World Cup soccer) final, the Royal Air Force is preparing to celebrate its centenary and Her Majesty’s government still has no clue, no consensus, on how to execute Brexit without severe harm,” Enders said, according to several reports.

The gloomy assessment followed hard on the heels of a stark warning Wednesday from Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Ralf Speth, who said that without the right deal, the carmaker would have to close manufacturing plants in Britain.

Today is seen as crucial for the U.K.’s government’s final position on Brexit, with Prime Minister Theresa May convening a “clear the air” meeting at her official country residence for senior cabinet members.

Some within the group want Britain to negotiate a “hard Brexit” with the EU that would see a complete rejection of the single market that allows free movement of people, services and goods. These include influential figures such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and the Secretary for Exiting the European Union David Davis.

They also want the U.K. to exit the customs union, which sets common trade tariffs among EU countries. But some businesses, including Airbus, fear this would lead to excessive cost and delay at the border, making Britain a less desirable place to locate their operations.

The Financial Times newspaper reported Thursday that 46 Conservative members of parliament wrote to May ahead of the meeting, urging her stand up to those calling for a hard Brexit and instead listen to the concerns of the business world.

May herself has already indicated a softer approach to exiting Europe that would see the U.K. continuing to follow some EU standards in exchange for smoother integration of trade and services.

One concern from those looking to extricate Britain fully from the EU is that continuing to accept those rules would, in turn, prevent a new trade deal with the United States.


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